Baffin Island (Image: David Mark, Pixabay)

Fingerprints of the Gods Exhibit 10, Part A – Spitzenbergen, Grinnel Land Swamps, Warm Arctic Ocean, etc.

Exhibit 10 consists of an eclectic, laundry list-like, collection of items that Hancock (1995) uses as evidence for his Earth crustal displacement hypothesis. Because of the lengthy and disconnected nature of the evidence and arguments in Exhibit 10, the discussion of the items presented and discussed is broken into two parts. This first part, Part A, discusses the evidence presented in Exhibit 10 from page 478 to page 481. The final part, Part B, discusses the evidence presented by Exhibit 10 from the bottom of page 481 to page 485.

FOG starts out by presenting in Exhibit 10 a series of observations that it claims shows that the Arctic Circle at one time experienced either temperate or tropical climates.

Spitzenbergen (Svalbard) fossils

First, Fingerprint of the Gods (FOG) notes that fossils of palm leaves “ten to twelve feet long” and fossil shrimp have been found in Spitzenbergen (Svalbard). The sole source of the information about these fossils provided by Hancock (1995:478) is Patton (1966:109-110), a Young Earth creationist book that predates FOG by 29 years. From this information, Hancock (1995) concludes that the Spitzenbergen enjoyed a tropical climate and temperature of the Arctic Ocean was once as warm as the Caribbean. An examination of “The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch: A study in Scientific History,” shows that Patton (1966:110) provided no cited source for the presence of “palm leaves ten to twelve feet long” that “have been fossilized along with fossilized marine crustaceans – which only could inhabit tropical waters.” The failure of Patton (1966:110) to identify the “palm leaves” and “shrimp” to specific genera and species and provide a specific source documenting their discovery makes them useless for making any sort of paleoclimatic inferences. Since there are numerous species of shrimp that now live in the ocean off of the coast of Spitzenbergen, the identity of the fossil shrimp to species and genera is absolutely necessary for any paleoclimatic interpretation. The lack of any specific citations, which documented the occurrence of these fossils in Spitzenbergen, raises the possibility that the palm leaves and shrimp are nothing more than Young Earth creationist folklore or misidentifications that have been unthinkingly repeated by both Patton (1966:110) and Hancock (1995:478).

In addition, Patton (1966:109) briefly noted the fossil 90-foot tree that Baron Edward Toll allegedly found in the Arctic Circle. This example of Young Earth creationist research is discussed in detail in “The Fruit Tree and Fingerprints of the Gods” and in “A Frozen Ninety Foot Tall Plum Tree with Ripe Fruit and Green Leaves Found North of the Arctic Circle?”

Patton (1966) is highly unreliable source of paleoclimatic information because he accepts at face value many Young Earth creationist falsehoods as fact that have since been disproved and refuted by later scientific research. Patton (1966:104-109) discusses at length, as fact, the mythology and falsehoods that have been propagated by catastrophist and Young earth creationists about “flash frozen mammoths” in Siberia. Graham Hancock complains about the idea of Earth crustal displacement being “rubbished” by geologists. However, anyone should realize that the use of religious fiction written by Young Earth creationists as evidence to support any theory is a certain invitation to the strong criticism of that theory.

The only specific citation given by Patton (1966) is Hooker (1935:44) on page 110. Hooker (1935:44) stated that Admiral Byrd found “plant fossils, leaf and stem impressions, coal, and fossilized wood” about 200 miles from the South Pole in Antarctica. These fossils have been well documented by later researchers. Their occurrence is explained by the essays concerning Exhibits 4 to 6 of the “Fingerprints of the Gods” (FOG) and Exhibit 3 of the “Fingerprints of the Gods” (FOG).

Grinnel Land Swamps

Second, FOG notes that fossil evidence shows that stands of cypress swamps having existed during the Miocene in Grinnel Land, northern Greenland, and Spitzenbergen as discussed by Hapgood (1970:66-67). However, Hapgood (1970:66-67) merely cites, without adding any additional information about these fossils an older source, Nares(1878). Thus, this research, cited by Hancock 1995:478), actually predates it publication by 117 years. By citing this research, instead of much younger and more recent and comprehensive research, FOG conveniently for its case in support of Earth crustal displacement overlooked paleoflora maps such as Wolfe (1985) that Earth crustal displacement is unable to explain.

Because of their age, these lignite deposits and fossil plants are a geological non sequitur. The Miocene was a period in the Earth’s prehistory when the climate was warmer then it is now. During the Miocene, the Earth was in transition from an extended period of “hot-house” global climate to the “ice-house” global climate that now exits. Unstated is the inference that Spitzenbergen has been shifted from a warm, tropical climate to its present polar climate. Unfortunately, an important fact, the age of these fossils, is missing. Given that the age of these fossils is an important observation in his arguments, this is a glaring omission on the part of this book. As noted below, timing is an important point in that such fossils could be consistent with polar floras and faunas during periods of “hot house’ paleoclimates that occurred during Earth prehistory as described by Wolfe (1985). Thus, Earth crustal displacement would not be needed to explain their presence in Spitzenbergen in strata of these ages.

Hancock seems unaware of the fact, recognized since the early nineteenth century, that the Earth’s climate has cooled over the last 60 million years. The middle Tertiary was a time of transition from the “hot-house” Earth, an Earth without polar ice-sheets and climatic zones, to the “ice-house” Earth, an Earth with polar ice sheets and climatic zones, in which we now live. The cypress swamps of Grinnel Land and Spitzenbergen represent a time when the Earth, although in transition from a hot house to ice house climates, was still warm enough for cool temperate swamps and forests to exist within the Arctic circle (Wolfe 1985).

Glaciation of Baffin island

Third, Hancock (1995:479) claimed that some of the islands in the Arctic Ocean were never covered by ice during the Last Ice Age. Again directly citing Hapgood (1970:93-96) and ignoring more recent syntheses of the Quaternary geology, e.g. Andrews (1989), (Hancock 1995:479) stated:

On Baffin Island, for example, 900 miles from the North Pole, alder and birch remains found in peat suggest that a much warmer climate than today less than 30,000 years ago. These conditions prevailed until 17,000 years ago: …

This claim from Hapgood (1970:93-97) is based upon a handful of radiocarbon dates. In contrast, Hancock (1995) overlooked numerous radiocarbon dates and glacial deposits which contradicts the claim that the Baffin Island was “much warmer than today” between 17,000 to 30,000 BP. Even worse, the radiocarbon dates cited by Hapgood (1970) even by themselves fail to support this claim of Hapgood (1970). The only dates, which include marine shells in addition to alder and birch that can be clearly associated with “slightly” warmer, not “much” warmer as Hancock (1995) exaggerates, range in age from 24,600+500 to 36,800+4200/-2800 BP. (Hapgood 1970:93-97). The first specific dates given by Hapgood (1970:97) as justification for extending the warm period through 17,000 BP, dates I-725, I-1242 and I-1314, only show that the adjacent Foxe Basin was open water at this time and reveal nothing about the paleoclimate at this time (Trautman and Willis 1966:185).

Hapgood (1970:79) also cites two radiocarbon dates, GSC-21 and GCS-24, as showing that “the warm climatic conditions extended down to the end of the glacial period and that down to 8,000 years ago Melville Island and Lougheed Island, in the Northwest Territories, had never been glaciated (351a:I[GSC]-21; III,53 and 351a:I[GSC]-24;III,53).” Both of these dates consist of marine pelecypods dated to around 8,200 BP. Thus, all they indicate is that parts of both islands were underwater at this time. Using these dates, it is impossible to make any paleoclimatic interpretations for the time between 36,000 and 8,200 BP. However, they do show that both islands have been elevated greatly by isostatic rebound since 8,2000 BP and, thus, likely have been glaciated. As a result, Hapgood (1970) failed miserably to present any hard evidence that the climate in the Baffin Island region was warmer than present between 30,000 and 8,000, even 17,000 BP. As a result, Hancock (1995) clearly lacked any evidence for his claims.

In contrast, Andrews (1989) presents irrefutable stratigraphic and geomorphic evidence and several radiocarbon that prove that both Melville Island and Lougheed Island were glaciated during much of time that Hapgood (1970) claimed they were ice-free. The data and interpretations in Andrews (1989) and other publications which Hancock (1995) overlooked demonstrated that the claims made by Hancock (1995) about paleoclimates being “much warmer than today” for this period are false.

Hancock (1995) is simply wrong about Baffin Island as being an example of an island in the Arctic Island that was never covered by ice. His false claim about the glaciation never having occurred on Baffin Island directly results from having relied solely upon Hapgood (1970), which was 25 years old at the time that FOG was first published. Thus, Hancock missed about 25 years worth of research that had occurred since Hapgood (1970) was published and made some clearly incorrect interpretations in FOG.

Even more damaging to the ideas about Earth crustal displacement offered by Hancock (1995) is history of Baffin Island that is given by Andrews (1989). Based upon well-dated glacial tills, moraines, marine deposits, shells, and wood, this history of Baffin island shows that the periods of maximum glaciation occurred on Baffin Island at the same time that it occurred in Russia, Europe, continental United States (Sibrava et al. 1986). This synchronicity of Baffin Island glaciation with worldwide glaciation is a fact that soundly refutes the type of Earth crustal-shifting / displacement advocated by Hancock (1995) and Hapgood (1970). If such crustal-shifting and movement of the location of the poles occurred as they claim, the timing of glaciations should be not synchronous as they have been shown to be.

Warm Arctic Ocean

Fourth, citing Hapgood (1970:99-100), Hancock (1995:479) claimed that Soviet scientists have concluded that the Arctic Ocean was “warm” during most of “the last Ice Age. Hapgood (1970:99-100) based his discussion entirely on an even older and extremely obscure paper, Saks et al. (1955), which predates Hancock (1995) by 40 years. All of the other research conducted and published over that four decade period is simply ignored by Hancock (1995:479) as if it doesn’t exist. This article is so obscure, it appears that the specific copy of it cited by Hapgood (1970:99-100) might lie in the archives of the National Archives of Canada. Finding the original Russian version of this article in the Soviet journal “Priroda” has also proved to be very both difficult and ineffective. It is not all clear that Hancock (1995) took the time to find and study Saks et al. (1955).

As a result, it is impossible at this time to verify Hapgood (1970:99-100) description of their paper and evaluate in any detail the techniques and data used by Saks et al. (1955) to reconstruct and date the paleoenvironmental changes. For example, Hapgood (1970:99-100) noted that the climatic reconstructions result from the work of these authors with cores that have been dated using “radioelements.” However, Hapgood (1970:99-100) failed to describe how many dates were used, the type of radiometric dating techniques used, and indicators used to reconstruct water temperature. Furthermore, Hapgood (1970:99-100) failed to define relative terms such as “warm” and “cool” in a scientifically useful way. In using the research of Saks et al. (1955), Hancock (1995:479) has chosen an extremely obscure reference that makes it as difficult as possible for his critics to evaluate and disagree with his interpretations relative to more accessible and contemporaneous citations such as Kellogg (1976) and Thiede et al. (1990).

Still, there are significant differences between what Hancock (1995:479) stated and what Hapgood (1970:100) wrote. For example, Hancock (1995:479) stated that these Russian scientists “concluded that the Arctic Ocean was warm during most of the last Ice Age.” However, the detailed chronology of water temperature variations that Hapgood (1970:100) listed shows only 26 to 38 percent of the last 50,000 years is described by the Saks et al. (1955) as being “warm” which certainly falls short of being “most” of this period. Twenty percent of this period is described as being “present climate,” which certainly cannot be described as “warm.” In addition, citing Hapgood (1970:99), Hancock (1995:479) claimed that this report “highlights the period from 32,000 to about 18,000 years ago as being one during which particularly warm conditions prevailed.” However, Hapgood (1970:99-100) lacks anything that would indicate that Saks et al. (1955) regarded this “warm” period as being “particularly warm.” Also, Hapgood (1970:100) stated that this period ranged from 28,000-32,000 BP to 18,000-20,000 BP, from which Hancock (1995:479) has omitted 28,000 and 20,000 BP. In the case of the “Warm Arctic Ocean,” Hancock (1995:479) has significantly distorted the information provided by Hapgood (1970:99-100) about the research of Saks et al. (1955).

Also, neither Hapgood (1970:99-100) nor Hancock (1995:479) defined what they meant by being “warm.” The Arctic Ocean can be “warm” in a relative sense, but still be a polar sea. As indicative of a constant polar position, Thiede et al. (1990) and Kellogg (1976) show that the Arctic Ocean has always remained much colder relative to the Atlantic Ocean further south despite these temperature fluctuations. Thiede et al. (1990) and Kellogg (1976) soundly refuted Hapgood (1970:99-100)’s rather naive and simplistic interpretations of Arctic paleooceanology.

Regardless, the chronology of “warm” versus “cool” water does nothing to contradict standard glacial chronologies as Hancock (1995:478) falsely implied. For example, the period of “warm water from 28,000-32,000 BP to 18,000-20,000 BP corresponds with a period of deglaciation and soil formation, e.g. Farmdale Paleosol, in the North American. The period of “cool” water from also 18,000-20,000 BP to 9,000 – 10,000 BP corresponds well with a period of glaciation in North American and European ice sheets (Sibrava et al. 1986:chart 1). Despite the rather crude nature of radiometric dating in 1955, their results offer very strong support of conventional chronologies and interpretations of the Quaternary history of the Arctic Ocean.

Flash-Frozen Mammoths

Finally, Hancock (1995:479) recycled catastrophist and Young earth creationist mythology about flash-frozen mammoths to support his hypothesis about Earth crustal displacement. What Hancock (1995) apparently failed to understand in FOG is that much “science” and religious fiction and mythology has been written about the mummified mammoths, bison, and horses found in Siberia and Alaska. This religious and “science” fiction falsely exaggerated the degree of preservation of the mummified mammoths and other mammals found in Siberia and Alaska. The claims that “flash-frozen” mammoths, bisons, and horses have been found in almost pristine state in the “muck” of Siberia and Alaska are simply false. If a person goes back to the original descriptions of these remains, a person finds that they all show some signs of either having either been gnawed by scavengers, decayed while exposed, or both at some time before burial.

This made very clear by detailed descriptions of the condition of these remains that have been published in the scientific literature. For example, Zimmerman and Tedford (1976:183) described tissue recovered from a mammoth mummy in Alaska as:

Abstract. Histologic examination of rehydrated tissue samples from late Pleistocene Alaskan) mammal mummies demonstrates that the preservative effect of freezing and drying extends to remains 15,000 to 25,000 years old. Some muscle and liver retained identifiable histologic structures. Most tissues were completely disintegrated and partly replaced by masses of bacteria, an indication of considerable postmortem decay before the remains were entombed beneath the permafrost zone.

Kurtn (1986, pp. 51-52) also noted:

Various legends exist about frozen mammoths. It as been said, for instance, that the scientists who excavated the Beresovka mammoth, discovered in the year 1900, enjoyed a banquet on mammoth steak. What really appears to have happened (as I was told by Professor Anatol Heintz) is that one of them made a heroic attempt to take a bite out of the 40,000 year old meat but was unable to keep it down, in spite of a generous use of spices.

On page 52, Kurtn (1986) continued:

The facts are not hard to find. In 1902, Otto Herz, a zoologist at the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg published in German an account of the expedition to the Beresovka River which he had led the year before, with the purpose of salvaging the mammoth carcass that had been discovered in 1900. …material omitted …. The point here is this: Herz definitely states that it was only the superficial part of the cadaver that had been preserved. The internal organs had rotted away before the animal had become frozen.

Neither mammoth sound like it was preserved the pristine condition claimed by Hancock (1995;479) when found. All of the alleged “flash-frozen” mammoths, bisons, and horses had decayed to some extent and often had been mutilated by scavengers prior to freezing. These and other descriptions of the mammoth, bison, and horse mummies found in the so-called “muck” of Alaska and Siberia refute the interpretation that these animals were flash-frozen before burial. All of these natural mummies have before they were frozen in the permafrost had decayed and often been scavenged (Farrand 1961, 1962; Guthrie 1990; Guthrie and Guthrie 1990; and Kurtn 1986). Further information can be found in Woolly Mammoths: Evidence of Catastrophe? by Sue Bishop and Philip Burns on the Talk.Origins Archive.

“The Icy Executioner”

1. From the above evidence, Hancock (1995:480) asked the rhetorical question as to whether a 30¡ degree crustal shift could have terminated the ice age in the Northern Hemisphere and swiveled a “deglaciated” Antarctica from temperate latitudes into the Antarctic Circle.

The problem with this question is that the evidence provide by Hapgood (1970), when evaluated using information available at the time FOG was published, ceases to be evidence that can be interpreted in favor of Earth crustal displacement. Also, another of many problems, is that there is an overwhelming abundance of evidence, which is summarized by Anderson (1999), that refutes the interpretation that Antarctica was deglaciated prior to 17,000 – 10,000 BP. From what is now known about the glacial history of Antarctica, it can be demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that that the maximum glaciation of the entire Antarctica continent occurred at the same time during the last glacial maximum(Anderson 1999). The maximum extent of glaciation in Antarctica is also synchronous with the maximum extend of the glaciation of North America and Europe occurred (Sibrava 1986). Both of these observations readily refutes the Earth crustal displacement theory as advocated by Hapgood (1970). In addition, there is an abundance of evidence including lack of displacement of island chains produced by hot spots, basic rock mechanics, and the complete lack of paleonagnetic evidence for the Earth crustal displacement that Hancock (1995) and Hapgood (1970) advocated as having happened. Paleomagnetisn is discussed in detail in Exhibit 10, Part B.

Hancock (1995:480) also talked about the “movability of Antarctica”. In his discussion, he again referred to the presence of fossil trees in Antarctica. As discussed in previous articles, it is now known that trees can grow and live in regions in which suffer six months of continual darkness. It is no different then trees that adapt to living in climates, which have freezing weather for six months of the years. Tress can and have adapted to living in such conditions as the fossil record indicates.

The remainder of this section consists of discussion about the amount of ice in Antarctica and philosophy of geology concerning catastrophism. Given that the evidence provided previously by Hancock (1995) fails to demonstrate an Earth crustal displacement, this discussion is not of any real significance to his thesis.


Anderson, J. B., 1999, Antarctic Marine Geology. University of Cambridge Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Andrews, J. T., 1989, Quaternary geology of the northeastern Canadian Shield. in R. J. Fulton, ed., pp. 276-317, Quaternary Geology of Canada and Greenland, Decade of North American Geology, vol. K-1, Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colorado.

Farrand, W. R., 1961, Frozen Mammoths and Modern Science. Science. vol. 133, no. 3455, pp. 729-735.

Farrand, W. R., 1962, Frozen Mammoths. Science. vol. 137, no. 3537, pp. 450-451.

Guthrie, R. D., 1990, Frozen Fauna of the Mammoth Steppe; the Story of Blue Babe. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 323 p.

Guthrie, Dale, and Guthrie, Mary L., 1990, Death on the steppe; the case of the frozen bison. New Scientist. vol. 127, no. 1727, pp. 47-51.

Hancock, G. 1995. Fingerprints of the Gods. William Heinemann Ltd., New York.

Hapgood, Charles H., 1970. The Path of the Pole, Chilton Books, Philadelphia.

Hooker, D. E., 1958, The Astounding Ice Ages. New York, Exposition Press, New York.

Kellogg, T., 1976, Late Quaternary climatic changes; evidence from deep-sea cores of Norwegian and Greenland seas. in pp. 77-110, Investigation of late Quaternary paleoceanography and paleoclimatology. Geological Society of America Memoir no. 145, Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colorado.

Kurtn, Bjorn, 1986, How to Deep Freeze a Mammoth. Columbia University Press, New York, New York.

Nares, Sir G. S., 1878, Narrative of a Voyage to the Polar Sea During 1875-6, 2nd ed., Samson Low, Marston, Searle, and Riverton, London, United Kingdon.

Patten, Don W., 1966. The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch. Pacific Meridian Press, Seattle, Wa.

Saks, V. N., Belov, N. A., and Lapina, N. N. (1955) Our present concepts of the geology of the central Arctic. (Translated by Defence Research Board, Canada, Translation T 196 R). Priroda, 7, 13-22.

Sibrava, V., Bowen, D. Q., and Richmond, G. M., 1986, Quaternary Science Reviews. vol. 5. Pergamon. Oxford, United Kingdom.

Thiede, J., Clark, D. L., and Herman, Y., 1990, Late Mesozoic and Cenozoic paleoceanography of the northern polar oceans. In Grantz, A., Johnson, L., and Sweeney, J. F., ed., pp. 427-458, The Arctic Ocean region. The Geology of North America. vol. L., Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colorado.

Trautman, M. A., and Willis, E. H., 1966, Isotopes, inc. radiocarbon measurements. Radiocarbon. vol. 8, pp. 161-203.

Wolfe, J. A., 1985, Distribution of major vegetational types during the Tertiary. In E. T. Sundquist and W. S. Broecker, eds., pp. 357-375, The carbon cycle and atmospheric CO (sub 2) ; natural variations Archean to present. Geophysical Monograph no. 32, American Geophysical Union. Washington, DC.

Zimmerman, M. R., and Tedford, R. H., 1976, Histologic Structures Preserved for 21,300 Years. Science. vol.194, no. 4261, pp. 183-184.

Exhibit 10, Part B.

Version 1.0
Feb 8, 2002

Copyright © 2002 Paul V. Heinrich All rights reserved.